Being an actor is easy, right? Memorise a few lines (that’s why we learned spelling and dictation back in school!), show up on set, then frown/smirk/grin while delivering your dialogue. At least, that’s what Joey Tribbiani in F.R.I.E.N.D.S taught us.

Then go home (or back to your trailer), Instagram some pics, and let the money roll in! Easy peasy. That’s why so many people harbour ambitions of being an actor, because it looks like it’s a little work for a lot of money.

Well… not quite. Real thespians take their craft very seriously. It’s not enough that they become the character – the audience has to to believe that they’ve turned into that character, too.

Most of the actors we’ve listed below went through hell and high water in dedication of their craft. But while most sacrifices were temporary, actress Taylor Hickson did not mean to disfigure her own face while filming Ghostland. Read on to find out more.


1. Christian Bale’s extreme weight loss for The Machinist

Christian Bale - from The Machinist to Batman Begins. Credit: LadBible

Christian Bale – from The Machinist to Batman Begins. Credit: LadBible

Remember how big and buff Christian Bale got for his role as Batman in Batman Begins (2005)? After all, the first step to being a superhero is to have a comic book physique (just look at virtually every Marvel movie).

Well, a year prior to being Batman, he starved himself into an emaciated 54kg for his role in The Machinist. Considering Bale is 183cm, that means he had a BMI of 16.1 when he was playing Trevor Reznik on The Machinist. According to Health Hub, that means he was at risk of nutritional deficiency and osteoporosis and encouraged to eat a balanced meal and to seek medical advice if necessary. How did he lose all that weight? With a (very unhealthy) diet of water, an apple and one cup of coffee per day, with the occasional whiskey. At least he got to drink whiskey!

But just six months later, he virtually doubled his weight by putting on 45kg to play Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins.


2. Karen Gillan’s shaved head for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1 and Vol 2

In case you haven’t watched the Guardians of the Galaxy films (or Avengers: Infinity War), the lovely Karen Gilian plays a blue-skinned bald cyborg fighter named Nebula, as seen below.

Nebula (Karen Gillan) in Avengers: Infinity War. Credit: Avengers Facebook Page

Nebula (Karen Gillan) in Avengers: Infinity War. Credit: Avengers Facebook Page

She first took on the role for Guardians of the Galaxy, before reprising Nebula for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 and Avengers: Infinity War. She had long locks that almost reached her waist – but had to shave it all off for her role as Nebula the first time. Yipes! It must have taken ages for her hair to grow back.

Fortunately, the producers found a way for her to only shave off half her hair for subsequent films. Thank goodness – imagine what it’d be like if she had to shave it all off every time there was a new Marvel movie (which is three times a year now)!


3. Joshua Tan’s weight gain for Ah Boys to Men 4

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Unlike most films, the high point of Ah Boys to Men 4 was not the climax (where the platoon of NSMen battled the greatest threat to Singapore, wild bees in the jungle) (maybe not “battled”, but “barely escaped with their lives from”). It was seeing Joshua Tan (who plays the character with the groan-worthy name Ken Chow) gain 20kg for this role.

Luckily for the usually fit and active actor (who confessed that he stayed off sports for his weight gain), he managed to shed 15kg for a theatre role right after that.


4. Jim Carrey put on painful contact lenses all day every day when shooting How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Jim Carey's frisbee-like green contact lenses in The Grinch. Credit: Nerdheist

Jim Carey’s frisbee-like green contact lenses in The Grinch. Credit: Nerdheist

There are those among us who will never put on contact lenses, because it’s just terrifying to poke something into your eyes every day (and even worse, pulling them out at the end of the day).

Jim Carrey had it worse in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. In addition to a heavy, uncomfortable costume and thick make-up and prosthetics, he had to jab giant green contact lenses into his eyes every day during the shoot. We’re not sure if the bloodshot eyes above are the result of the extreme eye pain he suffered or just simple special effects.

In any case, he almost wanted to quit the film and return his salary to the producers. So to help him cope with the situation, they brought in a military torture expert to help Carrey cope.

Yep. Wearing his costume was akin to military torture.

Fortunately he learnt how to deal with it, and returned to set to finish How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and… we’ll always remember Jim Carrey as the Grinch from now on.

Or at least, until the new animated The Grinch movie comes out, with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the grumpy green character.


5. Renee Zellweger’s weight gain for the first two Bridget Jones movies

Renee Zellweger's weight gain to play Bridget Jones. Credit: HyperActivz

Renee Zellweger’s weight gain to play Bridget Jones. Credit: HyperActivz

In the first two Bridget Jones movies, Renee Zellweger put on 15kg to play the neurotic but well-meaning British lass who, well, just can’t seem to catch a break. One of her (more minor) issues in the film is how she perceives herself, so it was important that Zellweger was able to convincingly portray a woman with self-esteem problems.

Not only did Zellweger have to put on weight – she also had to flaunt her tubbiness on screen by wearing revealing and unflattering outfits (for story reasons, of course) for multiple scenes. It’s impressive dedication to her craft!

Thankfully, she didn’t have to do that for Bridget Jones’ Baby – the producers wanted Bridget to have overcome her weight issues but still have self-esteem problems, to show that losing weight isn’t the key to happiness in life.


6. Charlize Theron’s monstrous transformation in Monster

Charlize Theron's performance in Monster was lauded not just for her physical transformation but convincing posturing as the serial killer. (Credit: Getty Images via Nav Heer)

Charlize Theron’s performance in Monster was lauded not just for her physical transformation but her convincing swagger as the serial killer. Credit: Getty Images via Nav Heer

For her role in the biographical film Monster (2003), Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron put herself on a diet of potato chips to gain 13kg, shaved off her eyebrows and put on prosthetic dentures to portray Aileen Wuornos. Wuornos was a former prostitute who became a serial killer, and was executed in Florida in 2002. Theron refused to put on a fat suit for her character, explaining that she wanted to transform her own body so she could truly feel and move like Wuornos.

Putting on weight is one thing – but shaving eyebrows? How would you even leave your house if you had no eyebrows?


7. Jake Gyllenhaal did 2,000 press-ups a day for Southpaw

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a boxing champion in Southpaw. Credit: Scott Garfield/Weinstein Company via The Independent

Jake Gyllenhaal starred as a boxing champion in Southpaw. Credit: Scott Garfield/Weinstein Company via The Independent

Not wanting to “look like an idiot in the ring” and wanting to come across as a real boxer who took up the sport since he was six, Jake Gyllenhaal put himself through a gruelling training programme which comprised doing two sets of 1,000 press-ups, an 8-km run and boxing practice every day for five months. He ended up putting on 7kg of pure muscle by the time shooting commenced.


8. Taylor Hickson got disfigured for Ghostland

Taylor Hickson's painful injury. Credit: Deadline

Taylor Hickson’s painful injury. Credit: Deadline

In horror movie Ghostland, Taylor Hickson plays the young version of main character Vera. In the course of filming, she had to pound against the glass pane of a door. Director Pascal Laugier asked her to pound harder (presumably to depict the anxiety of the character), and she hit so hard that she shattered the pane and fell through it, resulting in a severe gash across the left side of her face.

She had to get 70 stitches for the injury, and it left a lasting scar on her face. Hickson has since filed a lawsuit against the film’s production company, Incident Productions. Unlike the other actors and actresses mentioned above whose transformations were intentional and non-permanent, it’s likely that Hickson has to live with a scar on her face for the rest of her life.


Ghostland. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Ghostland. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

In what may be a cruel twist of fate (or a matter of eerily unfortunate coincidences), the poster for Ghostland features a woman looking at her scarred reflection in a mirror (although the actress pictured is not Taylor Hickson). The horror film sees a mother and her two daughters splitting up after experiencing a traumatic night in a house. Sixteen years later, they’re forced to reunite – and confront their worst fears.

What sort of Ghostland has the house become?

Be sure to look out for the scene where Taylor Hickson’s character (young Vera) pounds furiously against the glass pane of a door!


Credits: LadBible, Nerdheist, HyperActivz, Deadline, Golden Village Cinemas, Nav Heer,, The Independent

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